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Watch Words


The following pages are a glossary of terms associated with horology, watches and watchmaking. Please click on one of the links or glossary terms below to learn more about them. Most of the terms are enhanced with detailed imagery. If you would like us to list any other words that you think may be helpful, please contact me direct We will update the glossary frequently.


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Ladies style watch with a thin, elongated face; usually rectangular in shape but may be oval.




Oscillating device that, together with the balance spring, makes up the movement's heart in as much as its oscillations determine the frequency of its functioning and precision.



Balance Spring

Component of the regulating unit that, together with the balance, determines the movement's precision. The material used is mostly a steel alloy (e.g. Nivarox, s.), an extremely stable metal compound. In order to prevent the system's center of gravity from continuous shifts, hence differences in rate due to the watch's position, some modifications were adopted. These modifications included Breguet's overcoil (closing the terminal part of the spring partly on itself, so as to assure an almost perfect centering) and Philips curve (helping to eliminate the lateral pressure of the balance-staff pivots against their bearings). Today, thanks to the quality of materials, it is possible to assure an excellent precision of movement working even with a flat spring.



Bar or Cock

A metal plate fastened to the base plate at one point, leaving room for a gear wheel or pinion. The balance is usually attached to a bar called the balance cock.




Component of the movement containing the mainspring, whose toothed rim meshes with the pinion of the first gear of the train. Due to the fact that the whole movement – made up of barrel and mainspring – transmits the motive force, it is also considered to be the very motor. Inside the barrel, the mainspring is wound around an arbor turned by the winding crown or, in the case of automatic movements, also by the gear powered by the rotor.



Base Metal

Any non-precious metal.




Device that converts chemical energy into electricity. Most watch batteries are silver oxide type delivering 1.5 volts. Much longer-lasting lithium batteries are 3 volt.



Battery Life

The minimum period of time that a battery will continue to provide power to run the watch. Life begins at the point of manufacture when the factory initially installs the battery.



Battery Reserve Indicator

Some battery-operated watches have a feature that indicates when the battery is approaching the end of its life. This is often indicated by the second hand moving in two second intervals instead of each second.




Part on which a pivot turns, in watches it is represented mostly by jewels.




Chamfering of edges of levers, bridges and other elements of a movement by 45º, a treatment typically found in high-grade movements.




Top part of case, often in a shape of the ring surrounding the watch face, sometimes holds the crystal. It may be integrated with the case middle or may be a separate element. It is snapped or screwed on to the middle. The bezel typically has markings to indicate time zones, elapsed time (such as for scuba diving) or various other functions.

Below: The Uni-directional bezel of the C60 Trident Pro Automatic.


C60 Trident Pro Bezel



Blued Screw

Swiss watch making tradition dictates that a movement should contain blued screws for aesthetic reasons. Polished steel screws are heated, or tempered, to relax the steel, turning it a deep blue colour in the process. All Christopher Ward movements use the chemically induced version that ensures an even colour every time.




A metal band attached to the case. It is called integral if there is no apparent discontinuity between case and bracelet and the profile of attachments is similar to the first link.




Structural metal element of a movement – sometimes called cock or bar – supporting the wheel train, balance, escapement and barrel. Each bridge is fastened to the plate by means of screws and locked in a specific position by pins. In high-quality movements the sight surface is finished with various types of decoration.



Brushed, Brushing

Topical finishing giving metals a line finish, a clean and uniform look.




Usually matching the case, it attaches the two parts of the leather strap around the wrist.




Push piece controls, usually at 2 o’clock and/or 4 o’clock on the dial to control special functions such as the chronograph or the alarm.


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